Maintenance in Paradise

July 20th, 2021

While we were replacing the cooling system on the trusty diesel, we also researched refrigeration systems. In the end, Engel was what we settled with; three Engels. Their reputation was excellent. Evaporators are the achilles heal. Avoiding puncturing the evaporator the system might last 40 years. Well, that is, some Engels have worked for 40 years in the Australian Woop Woop (the Australian Outback). While not quite equal to the marine environment; it is harsh still.

Once the Perkins Bowman box arrived our boat (home) was knee deep with…stuff. Parts removed from the engine and parts to go on were everywhere. W/ tried to contain all of them under the dining table. The first order of business was to inventory and understand what each part was. Trans Atlantic Diesel has excellent support. With the kit they provided a video of the parts inventory and how to install. Tis always nice to have directions. They were around to answer any question by email. Luckily they only skipped one answer. Remember; this project is in the middle of Covid. Covid is not as bad in Australia as the US. Covid hit the US hard. And I did figure the answer out … eventually . TAD is forgiven. In the end; the words of my cruising brother flash florescent in my head: RTFM. Read the F——, Manual. 🙂

Before actual parts removal was an unwelcome task. And one that I really, really hate – draining the cooling system. We do have an engine sump but still, it is a wet, messy job. I will want to do something about upon rebuild. We drained the coolant, disposed of it at the marina’s waste disposal area and began removing parts.

As in most boat work projects ; when one project begins another one or two show their ugly head. Removing the parts, holding a new part in place to check it out, screamed out to us… PAINT THE ENGINE. Seriously! And the second project was that it is time to replace all the old hoses. Now that we can get to them much easier.

The parts removal went fine. We covered up areas that did not require any paint and took the parts to the recycling business. After all, it is good steel and some copper. There we picked up a few bucks dedicated to a cold one. Every part removed that would be reused, was cleaned and set aside. The engine was much, much smaller now.

We began to clean the engine. First was to hand wash with a degreaser. After which we cleaned with Alcohol and Acetone. Then we applied a primer. The engine changed from mottled Blue, to Grey, and to shinny Blue again. This job was HUGE! Once we painted an area we couldn’t keep working in the engine room. We needed to wait for the primer to dry, then clean another area and paint another part. I wasn’t spraying the beast. I didn’t want overspray getting into the living quarters nor covering any other area of the engine compartment.

At this time we checked the weather to ensure good weather while we were replacing the deck drain hose. One set of hoses had exceeded its working life. It was the cockpit drain. I now have easier access to it. We replaced it at break neck speed. . The next couple of weeks called for cleaning and painting the engine. The majority before putting – re-installing any parts.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long


I Don’t Get It! (Rant)

July 10th, 2021

What is it with males and testosterone? It is blowing like stink out today. I mean a near gale. Three boats slithered into the harbor all with guys at the helm. The women aboard where the deck apes (not my nomenclature but sailors in general). Yes, the physically weaker gendered individual is doing the heavier, harder work. Now the female sailing couples may not always be the weaker one. As a general rule; from my personal observations, she is.

If you are reading this you may be one of those arm chair cruisers that are dreaming of sailing the world. Please take note. Ask yourself and your partner these questions: 1) Who is the strongest one, 2) who can throw a line farther, and 3) who can reach / stretch the furthest.

The strongest member of a sailboat needs to be doing the heavy lifting. Pick up the anchor. Who can do it? Anchors are dead weight; Can your partner lift the anchor? The person on the deck needs to move any gear at a moments notice. . Fenders are not heavy. With a wind and short time, one needs to move quickly and get around natural boat obstructions. Moving a sail out of the way is not easy. On a cruising boat sails can be heavy and cumbersome.

Second. Throw a line. Again, I’m not being misogynistic here. Men have spent their lives throwing things. Balls, rocks, paper; anything a boy can pick up and throw they most likely have. They’ve grown quite good at it. Need to throw a 12 mm line 25 feet. Ask your partner to do that and see how far it gets. Most boats don’t carry a monkeys fist aboard for such situations. Tis a good idea, but still the deck ape needs to throw accurately, throw far and then haul and cleat a line lickitty split. Have a contest.

And third, who can jump the farthest? Stretch the farthest? Push something away from the boat? That person needs to be the deck ape. Do the test; 2 out of three wins the privilege of managing the deck when docking or anchoring.

Guys, if you want to go cruising, if you want to be successful, protect your boat and your marriage / partnership. Give up the helm. Spend some time teaching your partner how to manage the helm. Support them enrolling n a course to learn boat handling and how to manage the throttle.

On a side note; I watched a man at the helm of a power yacht. Big guy! Captain! In control! (Yes sarcasm here). The boat was I would guess at a min 30,000 lbs. Twin diesels. As they were docking his partner stepped to

Wendy at the Helm

the dock to cleat a line. As she was cleating a line he thought to nudge the boat astern with the engines. 100’s of horsepower pulling the boat a couple of inches. She was laying the line on the cleat and had her fingers between the cleat and the line. At the exact same moment he slipped the yacht into gear, for 1 second! Needless to say 3 to 4 crushed fingers were the result. An ambulance was immediatley called. She was in shock. If that would have occurred in any foreign port it would have been worse. I don’t know if the marriage survived. Either way I doubt she ever got on a boat with him again. One cardinal rule in any relationship; don’t hurt your mate! Be a real man, teach your partner how to manage the boat from the helm and you, you be the deck ape. End of rant.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long



July 5th, 2021
If you think I’ve been AWOL, I haven’t. But! I have been somewhat negligent in updating the blog. Really, I’ve not been motivated. I’ve blogged about our trip for well over a decade and was getting rather tired of it. It does take some work; for me. Some people can spit out words and they create beautiful prose. Not me, I try to proof it, then ask W/ to proof, and then run it through a word program for active and passive voice. After which I often have  one or two pictures to add. I look for something interesting. I resize them for the page and finally optimize them so they load fast. Now I know that if anyone is still following this blog, the majority have high speed internet. Yet other cruisers are not so well situated. Cruisers look for restaurants, SIM cards, libraries, etc, for their internet access. So ….here I am again sharing with you a peek into our life on the water.
Locked down during Covid, I’ve read books, played a lot of chess, worked on the boat, visited friends in Brissi, played tennis – hell, it sounds like fun. But! We’ve not moved the boat. Tired of twiddling my thumbs I decided to clean up the website. It has languished for years and I ignored it. The web has grown, I haven’t grown with it. On my site there were (and still are) pages that don’t load smoothly, pages with bad links, pages with poor code. I decided to clean it up. All of it. Whew! A much bigger job than I first thought. First, I’ve already forgotten some of the coding I use to know; and second, the web and coding has grown more appendages to create with. While I don’t expect to learn much of the new, I know I won’t get away with sitting on my laurels. I’ll be updating some software and if all goes well get the site up and functioning smoothly… again. I do see now how the blog and the site can work together, complimenting each otter. So while I’m deep into the changes, here is one section I think might please a few of you (picture galleries) . The galleries are broken down into a couple of sections so if you are interested in only the boat- it’s there, or just the tourist stuff- it is there too.
I don’t expect to blog as often, but I do hope to be a little more frequent than I have been.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Turning Dollars into Pennies…

March 16th, 2021

Cruising; Throwing Money Away….

Yep, sometimes it does seem as if the saying: “A boat is a hole in the water in which you throw money” is true.

It all started four years ago. Our friends on Quixotic were changing out their refrigeration system. They had a Sea Frost holding plate system. We had a holding plate system. And I helped them.

The plate they had was larger than the plates we had. And even though I had worked out all the energy details, size, heat load, heat loss, holding plate time etc, somewhere, somehow I missed something. My target was a run time of once per day for an hour. Generator or Large compressor I didn’t care. I had one large plate in the freezer and one slightly small one. At the present I was needing to run the system twice per day. This tied us to the boat and often effected our ability traveling freedom as the generator needed to run often or the batteries voltage would go too low. At the time we had roughly 150 watts of solar which we had purchased for about $1,500 bucks a decade earlier. All that would need to be replaced and there goes another 1,500 bucks…. into the deep blue.

Anyway, back to the project I envisioned. The plate was larger so I thought if I replace the smaller plate with the larger plate I will achieve better hold times out of the system. So, I inherited a new / used plate. There were a couple of issues. Somewhere in the past blogs I believe I have said “If it’s free it’s NOT for me”. I violated that mantra. First issue, it was a refrigeration plate, needed to change the eutectic solution, not a big deal. Second it only had one set of tubing and I have a dual system, I need to add a second set of tubing, and third, the tubing exits in the wrong place. All of that can be changed….. for $$$$. I was remiss in thinking how much.

The cost of the changes were just at $1,000 NZ. Had I been really smart I would have scrapped this idea and simply ordered a new plate, shipped from the US exactly the size, the solution, and the plumbing as I wanted. I would have saved an estimated $250 bucks up front.

Lots of Cu

Lot’s of Copper

So…. now I have the larger plate and spend about a week worth of my own cheap labor jockeying it into position and connected up. Then I vacuum the system (yes I have a vacuum pump with me, clean the condenser, pay a refrigeration mechanic to install another charging port and sight glass, check for leaks and we’re good to go.

Everything is fired up and running. Plates frozen, I still get 12 good hours out of each charge. One hour on 12 hours off. Well, more like I could go 14-15 hours but that puts me in the middle of the night and the 1/2 hp 12v compressor does make some noise, way too much noise.

We have lived with that system for about 3 years. I play with it trying to figure out why I only get the limited hold over. Never a good answer. I need to add refrigerant to the system as leaks tend to pop up every so often where they weren’t before. I seal it and recharge and in 6 months need to do it again. There just is a lot, and I mean a lot of plumbing running two sets of copper from two different compressors to three plates in two systems.

Twenty years ago when we planned this out holding plates were the Gold Standard. Not anymore. Mike on Infini tried them for about 5 years and changed them out in Hawaii. I, being quite stubborn, lasted longer.

Thus stuck in Australia with Covid running rampant in the world, W/ and I figured this would be a good time to move into the 21st century. We would switch to Engels and evaporator plates.

We bought an Engel MDF 40  chilly bin; an igloo with a compressor for the boat while we destroyed the old system and put in new. We pulled out the holding plates and I listed $750 dollar plates on the local site for $150 bucks each. No one wants them anymore. 🙁

So I pulled the new plate apart, drained the eutectic solution, removed all the cooper and took it to the recycle place. My free plate, that I paid $1,000 NZ to have made as we needed, returned $26 AUS.

If you think cruising is in anyway an investment; put your money somewhere else!

Am I going to give up this lifestyle. NO WAY! The adventures and the love of working on boats is not…. FREE… and most certainly worth it!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long


Stackpack Re-do….

June 3rd, 2020

Another One Bites the Dust

Yep, we’ve checked off another project on our list. The Stackpack we made in Fiji was HUGE! I followed the instructions found on the web and those too on Sailrites pages. They were all helpful. I believe the real issue was new sail stiff sail cloth with the full battens didn’t sit on the boom well. Thus, my measurements were … quite generous.

Two years in, the sail cloth relaxed a bit, it packed up smaller and the bag was, well; baggy. That and we really didn’t like how our full boat awning fit over the lazy jacks that were built into the Stackpack. Thus off to the google library I went. Actually I prefer Duck-Duck-Go because they don’t track you.

There I discovered a track I could sew into the cover and then slide a bolt rope into the track and hang the awning off of it. Unfortunately I could not locate any of the Keder Track in Australia. I did find it on Sailrite’s site

Keder Track Stitched in the Stackpack

and in NZ. I ordered it from NZ. The Keder rope slide I was able to locate here; about 45 minutes by car from us.

First order was to measure how much to shrink the Stackpack by and remove the pack. W/ and I (mostly W/) did a lot of seam ripping. The zipper top was good. The bottom needed a change as the slots for the reef lines were just not long enough. With the pack in pieces we then laid it out on the pier and marked off the amount to be removed. We cut and burned the cloth edge to eliminate unraveling. Next the difficult part.

We needed to sew in the new sewable track, the top zipper piece and the side panel. We had made the decision to break the track into pieces that fit between the lazy jack lifts. Am I glad we did. If not the project would have had to fold in 10’ sections. Now we have roughly 5’ sections do deal with. The track had been stored in a circle (that was how it was shipped). I had unpacked it and laid the track out on deck hoping it would straighten. It was still all curly. It wasn’t like wood. It was difficult to get all the pieces lined up. The basting tape we had would not hold everything together. I thought of using staples. I had seen other canvas makers use them but don’t have an industrial staple gun that has strong enough staples. W/ and I struggled putting all the pieces together and feed through the sewing machine. Remember the track had a twist to it and we needed it straight. I tried straightening by heating it and that helped … a bit. The track was still not “straight”. Too, this is where I appreciate canvas / sail makers. They have a large flat surface and sit in a pit with the machine and the material flush. After which they feed it all through the machine and boom; done. W/ held up one end, I tried to hold the middle and feed and sew. We did make it through one side and very frustrated as well as relieved. Frustrated that this project is on the large size for doing on a cruising boat. Relieved that we had it half completed. We needed help.

One advantage in the cruising community is that others are often there to assist. All you need do is ask. Co-opting a fellow cruiser we were better able to manage the 18’ run. With Dan (our fellow cruiser friend) and W/ we managed the huge piece much better. Still I wish I had the canvas makers floor.

I informed W/ “I don’t ever want to do this again”! W/ said she had heard that before and chuckled … just a little.

Put together we were ready for the installation. Again we found help from Dan. First he hauled me up the mast to run the lift lines. W/ says I’m dead weight and doesn’t love cranking me up the mast! Go figure… 🙂 When we removed the pack, one of the lift lines jammed at the upper block. Once both lines were down I could measure them. I didn’t like the stretch we had in the lifts. Thus I will add a small Dynema line (it stretches like wire but is soft and flexible). Once they were in place Dan hauled the mainsail up, W/ fed the bottom of the pack into the boom and I slid it on. In place

Our New Modified Stackpack

we began attaching the lazy jacks. Hauled in the lift line and dropped the sail. Sweet, the sail slid into the pack like it was expected. Zip it up and begin the final adjustments of the lifts. As it was it would have been functional. I don’t really know of any differences in the lifts have any practical consequences. I wan’t going to find out. We spent a couple of days playing with the lengths and finally I felt port and starboard were close enough. I measured and cut the lines, W/ seized the ends with heat, tied them on the Stackpack, sat back and contemplated our next project. It is a big one, redoing the refrigeration system.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long



Wrong Diagnosis…

May 7th, 2020

There is a life expectancy for hoses. I’ve heard varying amounts of years quoted. And yet I have never seen a “hose warning” label, ex “this hose is good for XX years”.

What I’ve been watching for awhile now.

Another cruising friend had informed me I had a leak in my generator. The hose next to it has a long oil like substance dripping down it. Smugly I said, I know, I can’t find the leak.

I saw the mess about 2 years ago. I had placed cardboard on the hose with wire ties trying to identify where the leak was coming from. I ran the water maker. Moved the card board. Still the oily mess made it’s way down the hose. I moved it some more and looked for any oil being spit out by the new generator. i still couldn’t find it.

In exasperation I decided it must be the hose. It is degrading. Put “change out hose” on the list. And as most yachties know, when you start one project others soon rise from the sea. Since I was working in the engine room; it actually felt more like I lived there. I figured it was time to replace the hose. BTW that hose is over 19 years old. It was on the boat when we purchased her. And as 1 1/2” wire bound hose is a pretty standard boat hose I was lucky the marine store here had it in stock.

As work progressed on the engine, I was near to where I could  easily replace to the hose. I say  easily but if you love messing around in boats you know;  nothing is easy. I had one marine yard mechanic say in a war between a hose and the owner; the hose often won. I am ready to tackle this job. But wait!

Mike and Jenny were coming by on their exit of Australia. Mike is one of my shore support team members you may hear mentioned  every so often. They too own a sister ship of Elysium. So as any Captain does, they like to look over what changes have been made and see what

Oily, Messy, slimmy, Yuck

 ideas they wish to “steal” from another’s boat. 🙂 Mike looks in the engine room and say’s “Oh you have a cockpit drain hose that is degrading”. SMH Why didn’t he stop by a year or so ago and tell me. LOL. Anyway, I tell him my odyssey and I see that smile on his face. Yes, I know he was laughing inside at my bending over backwards trying to find a leak when all the time it was an aged hose.

That hose is with us no longer. Sent to the trash heap. I flushed out all the salt water with buckets of fresh. Closed the seacock and drained the left over water out of the hose. Then tore into it with some choice english vocabulary not taught in public schools. With the hose out, I could warm up the new hose ends and connected the fittings. Add some new clamps, and bingo! Ensuring no leaks I open the seacock for the drains. Finally, no more black gooey stuff running down the hoses and messing up my engine room and it does not leak. Oh Happy day!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long


Boat Yoga

April 25th, 2020

Boat Yoga is a real thing. And no, it is not serenely listening to someone guide you through downward dog, the warrior, or a Sun salutation. It is bending, contorting to reach at full stretch while being upside down, sideways, or in a full body twist in a stuffy engine compartment, reaching the stud to slowly turn the nut on the bolt. All the while hoping and praying the nut does not slip out of your hand and enter the gates of hell, otherwise referred to as the bilge.

I’ve been doing a lot of boat Yoga lately. And I am here to tell you …I don’t like it much.

When we arrived in Australia we had two big projects in mind. One, redo the cooling system on the Perkins, and two get rid of the holding plates, divide our refrigerator and freezer into three compartments. Since, we’ve added a third job, redo our lazy jack lines on our new stack pack so we can easily rig our full boat awning. That, will be an interesting project.

Since we are on limited contact here in Australia during the Covid crises we’ve focused on the engine. I do the yoga while W/ provides the serene commentary. She also is the tool gofer. I watched the Trans Atlantic Diesel (TAD -not TED) video a few times familiarizing myself with what to do. We ordered the gear and paid duty to Australia. From the office we schlepped it to the boat. Stored in the boat we’ve been walking around it for a few weeks. W/ said it is time. Get to work Dave. 🙂

Our trusty Perkins with the original header tank.

Examining what I needed to do, I thought this would be a good time to repaint the engine. Lewis and Alyssa repainted their engine on their Island Packet. How hard could it be? What a horrendous, good choice. Horrendous because while we have better engine access than most other boats (say under 70’), it is still close to impossible reaching every spot.

I started by removing the old cooling system components. That involved draining the coolant out of every piece, unbolting it, and removing all the hoses. Some parts I missed finding the drain cock and coolant ended up in the engine sump. New Yoga move; cleaning the engine sump. Sans coolant, I began removing parts. We stored them on the aft deck. I was expecting the install to go well but just in case I wanted a fall back. It would have been an ugly fall back cleaning and re installing them.

Once they were off we washed the engine with a degreaser. Again more water in the engine sump and again more of the yoga pose “Sump Clean out”. To clean the sump we first used a small oil change pump to pump out as much liquid as possible. Then I laid on my belly and reached as far as I could with a rag for the rest of the water. Then again on my belly I reached with a wet spirits rag (not the drinking kind) to clean up any oily scum left behind.

With the sump clean we put on two coats of etching primer. The boat smelled like a paint shop. We put the primer on and then ran away. Two coats of primer took approximately 6 tries to complete it all. Again; once again I was reaching under the engine to the full extent of my limbs and rolling primer across the bottom of the engine pan. Then we did each side front, back, and top. W/ mixed and I painted and we both cleared out of the boat when finished. Epoxy primer is nasty stuff.

Once primed I was able to install a couple of pieces of the new cooling system. I would add, then paint. If I put it all on at once then I wouldn’t be able to paint the hidden areas. Getting the Perkins paint color right was a wee bit of a problem so we opted for Ford Blue- close enough.

Add a part, paint, add a part paint. This alone took a couple of weeks.

The Bowman Kit from TAD installed few hitches. But, there were two gotchas. I’m close to the end of this project. All the large pieces are on and I’m completing the raw water system. I needed a pipe wrench. Yeah, I didn’t have one, had not yet needed one on this boat. Now I needed to remove the outlet nipple on the raw water pump. TAD had sent an elbow to install. Bunnings provided a new pipe wrench, after giving them some money. After removal I tried to fit the elbow. Oops. No room to rotate it. Now I need to loosen and rotate the pump to add the elbow. The problem was the bolt / nut on the pump had rusted so badly I couldn’t get a wrench on them. Yes, I’ve had a little drip on the pump for the last year or so.

Once removed the pump screamed at me to rebuild it. With some colorful

Rebuilding the Jabsco Pump

language aimed at the boat gods I was able to get the 4 nuts to the pump gear off. Then I could remove the entire assembly. I could now add the elbow. Remember the leak. Now is a good time to fix the Jabsco 10970 pump. And that was a fiasco.

Ok, I needed to take it apart. Dummy me. This next mistake cost me some extra dollars. I went to the Yanmar / Volva shop and the owner said he would help once I got it apart and had the kit to put it back together. He never indicated what I needed to do to get it apart. Well, I thought the pump had cup seals like in my last engine. Not so! I took the impeller out and expected to slide off the Jabsco shaft from the pump housing. Don’t try it! The screw up will cost you almost a boat buck ($1,000). I could not take the pump apart with the tools I had on the boat. A machine shop could. I took it to machine shop and they kindly put it on a press and pressed out the shaft from the pump. Great! I had it apart and the inner pieces were a mess. Next I had to find the parts to order. The mechanics out there will already know how I screwed up!

Luckily there is a Jabsco dealer down the road. I took the pump to him and we ordered the parts. Next week (yes another week passed) I received the kit and some of the instructions on putting it together. BTW, Jabsco’s exploded diagram is; how can I say it politely- crappy. Gordon (the Jabsco dealer) suggested I use Loctite 515 – for the rubber seal. I like that stuff. Yet I didn’t like how the seal set. It was crooked in the pump. If I was of average intelligence I would have stopped right there. I would have questioned someone more knowledgeable. You can tell I didn’t. I greased up the shaft (another error) and slid the other parts on. Put the impeller in and the cover back on. Time to install it on to the engine.

I put the gasket sealant on and then spoke with the boat gods. I was not pleasant. Getting the gear lined up with the housing and the four studs was a cluster…… . Finally it was on and snugged down. The elbow fit perfectly the connection TAD provided didn’t. I needed to add a length of hose.

This was only the second gotcha I’ve found in the kit. Finding US imperial hose in a metric country is not my idea of fun. Eventually I found some that would work. Not exactly what I wanted but I remember what the Stones Said; “You don’t always get what you want, …. You get what you need”.

With the pump installed the raw water system was completed and tomorrow I would test it. I don’t like testing things in the afternoon. If something screws up I’m working in the evening trying to fix it. That makes a mess in the boat, W/ is not happy and I’m beyond tired and cranky. So I wait. Tomorrow came and I opened the seacock letting water into the engine. Almost immediately, the engine passed water to the engine sump. Oh were the boat gods ears ringing then. I close the seacock and need to remove / redo the pump. I am not happy.

Time to call in the big guns; my shore support team; Mike and Dirk. Using WhatsApp I contacted them and then we did a video chat. They helped me get it all apart and the diagnosis was that something at the bottom of the pump was amiss. The rubber thingie ought not be hanging on the shaft out of the pump. Time to take the pump back apart. There I discovered my mistake in choosing a lubricant.

I couldn’t get the shaft out of the mechanical bearing. To do so I used a rubber mallet and lightly tapped the shaft easing the parts off. (If you believe “lightly” tapped I have some swamp land to sell you!) The water proof grease I used gummed up the parts already and that is why I needed to tap it out. Tapping it out broke the surface of the ceramic bearing and I would need to replace it. As the gods are now getting back at me I couldn’t replace just that bearing, I needed to buy an entire new kit at $150 AU.

Once apart and cleaned up I took the entire pump to the Jabsco dealer. In all hubris I told him that it looked like the rubber piece was missing something. I was wrong again. I ate my words. The pump was missing something. When we had it on the press and pushed the shaft out I broke off the bottom bronze flange of the pump! I would need a new pump. The pump alone new in Australia is $1,200. The body which is what I needed is about $700 plus AU. Gorden thought he might have a used one he could clean up and sell me. He did and I gladly paid the $200 he charged for it. Now another week passes by, awaiting the next kit shipment.

I have the new bearing kit, the new pump body and am putting it together. This time I clean the shaft and use no lubricant. As long as the pump has water in it I am told all will be fine. My shore support team informed me of the recommended lubricants: glycerin or liquid soap. Anything water soluble . Next to install on the engine. This time, instead of putting sealant on first I make sure to align the gear. Then I add sealant and still struggle a bit to get the gear housing aligned and on. This time the process was much easier.

Now get this. When I removed the pump the second time I put four nuts on the platform for the aft head. That was about a 7-10 days ago. I’m putting the rebuilt, painted housing on and look for the nuts. I can only find 3. THREE! I guess the gods were paying me back. W/ and I search everywhere. We check the engine sump, we search the head floor, we search the engine room floor. We check the socket used to remove the nuts. The nut remains hidden. This is an imperial bolt with fine thread. I am in a metric country. I don’t have much hope. Luckily there is a serious Nut/ Bolt store 10 minutes from here. Oh… Happy Day! They have them. I buy a couple nuts and lock washers. Who knows if I will need an extra.

Once installed we are again ready to test the raw water system. I open the seacock. Water enters. Looks ok. W/opens the after hose that cools the shaft log. No leaks. Well not with the pump. I am getting a little water out of the top of the old…. old raw water filter. I have ordered a new raw water filter From Amazon. (Note: three weeks later I look for my order and Amazon cancelled it and never informed me- May the gods spite Amazon) The old strainer is a Perko and they don’t even show parts (gaskets) on their website anymore. To check the contents and clean the strainer I need to empty the entire bowl with water. What a PITA. So I’ll wait a bit and deal with the weep later when the new strainer arrives.

At this point all new hoses are also on the engine. New exhaust elbow, new exhaust hose to the aqua lift muffler, new raw water hoses all the way around. Things are looking good. The engine paint indicates to wait 5 days before running. That I’ll do. At that time I will need to flush it with a couple of fresh water rinses and then add new coolant. Once completed; we’ll crack open a bottle of champagne. This has been one DAMN BIG project!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long


Not Always Fun….Always an Adventure

February 18th, 2020
It’s been a long time. A long time since writing my last post and a long time writing the blogs. It’s not that I don’t have much to say. I do. It’s that, life, living, cruising gets some in the way of writing these posts. They are not just off the cuff. I do put thought into them. I can’t seem to get in the swing of writing brief, frequent posts as some of my other cruising friends do. I can’t seem to make it a daily or weekly note and post updates. Sorry.
That said, since Fraser Island we’ve come a long way in activities and a short distance in miles. We hung in the St. Mary’s river with two other cruising boats, played tennis in Tin Can Bay, navigated the Wide Bay Bar and moved down to Scarborough Marina where we’ll hang for a minimum of 3 months. Oh, we also watched the fire works from South Bank. What an event! While here, we’ve reconnected with some friends from the states of 17 years ago, spent some time with them, bought a car, joined a gym, and another tennis club.

As far as the boat is concerned we began the list of projects. We ordered a new cooling system for the engine; a Bowman heat exchanger kit from TAD, we’ve completed one sewing project, attacked a wee bit of the varnish and for our comfort we purchased a portable AC unit.
There are different types of cruisers. There is the commuter cruiser that returns to the states every 6-9 months, and the tourist cruiser that hits all the highlights in an area.  Then there is us. We are slow cruisers. We want to meet the locals,  share our stories, experience how it is to live in their country, taste test their foods, and ok; see a few of the sights. We’re never going to see them all.
Bonna; a mate on the boat Good News is from the Philippines. She loved to tell everyone there are 7,000 islands in her country. Well, if we anchored at each island for just one day; that’s 20 years of cruising. You can’t see it all. So; we don’t try.
Sailing in Australia is, well, not the countries highlight. If one chooses Tasmania the anchorages are great, the scenery awesome and the wx; much too cold for us. We hear the Whitsundays are great cruising grounds. We’ve not cruised there yet. The rest, as far as I”m concerned is not for the faint of heart. Crossing bars one must watch the winds and the tides. Anchorages are packed full making holiday parking lots look empty. Katie M told us recently that they couldn’t even get into an anchorage as there were so many boats there. The anchorage outside our marina has no protection from the ESE to the NNE. The trades blow right on through. Thus we’ve joined the marina crowd. When we head out we will seek some cruising time in the Whitsundays. For now, it is marinas and projects.
Just to give one an idea of Australian navigation fun. There is channel north of where we are, near Cairns. One can navigate it during High tide. During low tide it is a cattle crossing! There are many bar entrances and exits to protected waters here. When the tide is going out and the winds are blowing ashore standing waves occur. They are big waves that look squarish and often break. Boats have been flooded, rolled and sunk trying to cross a bar at the wrong time. There is a group of people that volunteer at the Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) . They provide info on the condition of the bars. Getting across one of the bars isn’t the only thing to be concerned with. It is getting back in. Some boats have had to wait one or two days before entering a bar. People have died crossing at the wrong times. We are extra cautious.
Anchoring too is exciting. We anchored in the Mary’s River near it’s mouth. While the winds blew up the river we rarely laid to the wind. The current with the 2 m tides directed the boat. The current was often 3 kts. That is 50% of our normal boat speed; and we are not even moving, only the water. Anchoring we need to take the tides into account. Two meters tide (about 6’) means we need to add about 12 m more of chain / rode when dropping our anchor. That in turn means we’ll move in a larger circle during low tide. Further to complicate things; this river has a flood plain of about 10 meters (yes you heard me 30’). So if for some reason it floods from excessive rains inland, we would need to move somewhere else. Flooding brings debris like logs down the river. All threatening to up our anchor and damage our boat.  With that high of water we might even pull our anchor out and become part of the debris.
Settling (even temporarily) in a new country adds another set of problems. All marinas in Australia require a $10 million liability coverage. Our insurance liability doesn’t go that high. We needed to get more insurance. We contacted some companies and they wanted a new survey. We prepared for that and were ready to haul and get an updated survey. After a couple of days searching we found reasonable 3rd party insurance coverage for 10 million dollars. We will most likely haul and get a new survey when we do our yearly haul here in Australia. Then we can get the Australian full comprehensive coverage. In some countries insurance companies will not insure a foreign flagged vessel. And getting that much coverage with a US company gets to be quite expensive if one can even find it now. Many US companies have opted out of covering US vessels so far from their home port.
New Aussie WheelsAs I said we bought a car. That too came with new challenges. In NZ we had a signed title. With one page of paperwork we went to the post office, presented them with the paperwork and boom, the car was ours. Here we needed 3 forms of identification as well as a local mailing address. Our friends provided us with the mailing address.  We are fortunate that they are here. A week later we picked up a 2007 Honda CR-V. The newest car we’ve ever owned! Remember; we’ve been traveling for 12 years now.
One of the biggest challenges we have had cruising is with our bank cards. We would love to switch to the bank (USAA) our cruising friends have. They have one that supports veterans and their families. They understand people are mobile. I’m not a veteran but my father was. And sadly, he passed many years ago. I need a living immediate family veteran to qualify. Anyway, our credit union is as good as one can expect considering we don’t fit into a category of standard retiree.
They send the CC to our home address. Well, we’re not there. Because of that the CC gets destroyed and our account frozen. CC’s and debit cards is how we acquire the needed funds for cruising. Gone are the days when cruisers carry boat loads of cash to move from country to country. We have a good contact in the bank and he suggested we switch our home address on the account to our Aussie address. OK, no problem. We do online banking with a VPN. (We use Express VPN and if anyone wishes to use them please acknowledge us; we get an extra month-sorry shameless sell). Anyway I go to make the change and the profile page will not accept a 4 digit postal code. Aussies only have a 4 digit code. We again contact the bank and our “guy” is able to get one of their computer people to put in the 4 digit code. At this point we don’t have a working CC but do have working debit cards… so far. We’ve taken enough cash out to carry us through till the new cards arrive. Now that the address is right the bank will send out new cards to this Australian address. Unfortunately they don’t send them the way the best way – DHL. They send it snail mail. Three weeks later we finally receive the cards. Now to activate them.
When we call they ask for information from us to verify it is us. W/ gives them the info, but when they ask for our home zip (remember Australia doesn’t have a 5 digit zip) we give them the Aus postal code. Also remember that this is in our profile. No good. The computer program they are inputting to doesn’t accept this 4 digit code. They want 5 digits, even though it is now in our profile as 4 digits. We are lucky, the employee at the bank was able to make a work around to activate the card. We’re back in the game. Almost. Now we need to wait for the debit cards. Again that takes a few extra weeks. We have one but the other isn’t in our pocket yet.
While all that is happening we’re ordering stuff for the boat. When one orders stuff on line and puts in the CC info, merchants often make sure the address matches the CC info. Again, since this is a US card and we are in Aus we have a 4 digit post code. Merchant stores don’t like that. Orders are denied and kicked back. More issues ensue. Luckily, before we left I set up PayPal and that has been a fall back. To keep things as simple as possible we often order from Australian web stores. One order I made was cancelled when they discovered that the card was a US card with an Australian address! And when cancelled they never told me. Three weeks later I’m investigating where our stuff is. I discover that the order was cancelled and refunded. No charger or refund showed up on the card.
On top of all that, since we knew we were buying a car and planned on being here awhile, we opened a local bank account. It is much easier doing business having a local bank. (BTW, NZ and AUS banks are far ahead of the US banks for electronic funds transfers). We first went to one bank and opened an account. Spent an hour doing all the paperwork. To add money we wrote a check from our account in the states for deposit. Their policy dictated that before we deposit a foreign funds check we needed to have an account for 6 months. Even though we would not be able to use the money until the check cleared and the money was actually in the account! On to another bank we go. This one is a sister bank to the one we used in NZ. All good. We open the account and deposit a check. Almost three months later the check still has not cleared. We discovered yesterday that they never got it sent off because the bank individual didn’t have us “endorse” it. The check was to be deposited in our account. SMH!
And we needed the money to buy the car. We (both of us) got up at 2 am to call our bank during their business hours and make an international wire transfer. Finally, something went smoothly (still it was at 2am), and 3 days later we had the funds. Oh, isn’t cruising fun? Not really- always fun, but definitely -always an adventure.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

We’ve Been Busy

January 13th, 2020

We have been busy. I know the blog doesn’t show it. ( I am rectifying that situation.) Two huge projects have slipped by. I’ll post them in the front of the blog for a week or so then put them in the correct chronological order.

The first project was upgrading the cooling system on the trusty Perkins 4-236. Alex from

Perkins 4-236

Project Bluesphere and Steve on NorthStar had made the change; and they liked it. I knew we would be spending time in Australia, friends from the states were planning on visiting, and we have friends in Brissi.

I ordered the kit from TransAtlantic Diesel (TAD) and waited for its arrival. The kit with shipping and duty came to about 6k USD. Additionally when installing I broke the cooling pump and needed to replace it.  Here in Australia that too cost close to a boat buck ($1,000).

While waiting on the Bowman Heat Exchanger Kit to arrive we began preparation for the refrigeration change. In the end we were not “happy” with our holding plate system installed 20 years ago.

I identified some of the issues in an earlier post. To recap: The system was loud. The 1/2 hp motor turning the compressor would wake people up. It was right under our sea berth and made sleeping on passage next to impossible when running. We needed to manage the time so we both could get enough rest. It was water cooled and the pickup wasn’t in the best position in the boat. The water pickup was slightly aft of the beam. Much over 6 kts we often would end up air. The cooling would get an air lock and the system would stop. I then needed to purge the pump in the engine room while we were on a roller coaster ride across the deep blue. There must have been a hundred tubing connection through out the entire system. I was spending more time then I wished chasing down leaks. That and once found and eliminated we needed to add refrigerant. In places like the US, R134a is easy to find. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry auto store sells refrigerant. Here in QLD Australia, the only way to get refrigerant was to hire an AC shop to come check out the system and then top it up. At $250 bucks travel time plus an hourly that would get expensive, whew, glad that is over. Then, the boxes were so large W/ had difficulty using anything on the bottom. That space became a waste. The plates too took up a lot of room in the boxes making organization difficult. And finally, I never achieved the hold over I expected with the three plates. Thus the decision was to re-do the entire system. Remove the holding plates and add evaporator plates. Remove both compressors, the water cooling system and the plumbing. The search began for replacements. The destruction / construction would begin when we had the new system here in boxes. And the engine cooling system completed.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long


4 Wheelin on Fraser Island

November 23rd, 2019

Yep, there is a speed limit on this beach

Beach Speed Limit

We took a tour; unlike Gilligan it was longer than 3 hours. And unlike Gilligan; we eventually returned to our destination. The day prior Laura, W/ , and I found the 4 Wheel Drive (4wd) auto rental place. We signed up. To drive one of the rentals on Fraser you need a drivers license and to watch an hour video on “Driving on Fraser”. Honestly, it was quite good and informative. We watched it, paid our deposit, informed that Dick, who would be the main driver needed to watch it too. Otherwise we would be leaving later then we wanted to…. in the am.

It didn’t matter that much. We were there promptly at 8 am and the agent was quite busy. Between 8:30 and 9 am we were on the road. Dick had watched the video and the agent cleared the car. The “road” is a lie. Yes, It was asphalt as we left Kingfisher Bay. As we reached the top of the rise the road changed to sand ruts. And ruts is putting it mildly. Dick switched on the 4 WD and we crawled, bumped, shaked and shimmied across Fraser. The ride made any of Disney’s adventures seem sane by comparison. Forty-five minutes later we had crossed the 15 km wide island. No bruises but quite tenderized bums. There the ride eased. We switch into high gear and flew along this Australian Highway. Yep, the beach is a highway with an 80 kph speed limit. Our rental company told us our limit was 60 kph. Anyway, it would be crazy to go 80 kph. That is unless you are a plane flying low. Yep. The beach too is airport worthy. We passed three landing areas.
Driving at high speeds on the beach was fun. For us, 60 kph on a beach is high speed. We traversed several washes. Places where water was running out of the sand mountains or those in the Western US would say hills. We stopped first at Eli Creek. A pure fresh water creek that was said to be drinkable. Drinkable at least above the area that people are playing in it. 🙂 Neither W/ or I availed ourselves of ingesting the cool liquid. We walked in the creek and enjoyed the party like atmosphere around the mouth. John and Leanne on Songlines told us in the past they would camp there for a week or so. That was before it became a popular mecca for locals.
Cooled off and refreshed we again headed N on the beach highway to the wreck of the Maheno. A luxury liner that was headed to the scrap yard years ago. A cyclone struck it and the towing vessel offshore and the tow line blew apart. The Maheno ended up on Fraser and has laid there ever since. The story has a few people losing their lives trying to recover it. Since, it slowly is working its way deeper and deeper into the sand. Currently I hear three floors of it lie below the beach.
The Pinnicals were quite pretty but no climbing. Climbing will break the sand and destroy their effect. We took some photos and reached the Northern terminus of our trip; the Cathedral. There we had a light lunch and rested our backsides. I asked one of the employee’s at the Eco resort we had lunch at, about it. He said that they called it the Cathedral because from afar the cliffs look like one. But, he indicated he never could see the resemblance. Neither could we.
Back down the beach we went, dodging a few airplanes, climbing through creek washes. Dick; our designated driver drove through a dozen or so washes. We passed also passed the spot where we crossed from the. Our southern terminus was one of the few towns on the island. About 50 people live there! 🙂 Again another snack, restrooms, and a break. After which we cut back across the island towards Lake McKenzie.
Lake McKenzie is one gorgeous lake. Crystal clear water, white sand beaches and no trash. Food and drink are not allowed at the lake. Only people. And people, still bring problems. They put on sun screen as well as perfumes and skin oils that are contaminating the lake. There are no fish in the lake, a few turtles, and frogs. It was a wonderful stop. We had melon (100 m up from the shore) in an enclosed wire compound. That compound keeps the Dingo’s out. Trash either taken with you or placed in Dingo proof containers in fenced in eating areas. Lake McKenzie is one of the most idyllic areas we’ve ever been to. After a swim and some sustinence we continued our trek back across Fraser to Kingfisher bay. There we will fill up with diesel and return the vehicle.
Diesel for the day ran a bit over $75 Aus. We turned the car in and had it checked over. Our attendant was happy we didn’t have any damage. Three out of the six vehicles out that day came back with damage! I tell you; the sand track was rough. Luckily Dick was adept at driving in sand. He had experience biking off road in Utah and much of that experience transferred. Our agent indicated the tracks were beat up due to people bringing all wheel drive cars. Those vehicles create ruts and the washboard effect. In case we wish to do this again, she indicated that after the rains start the track will smooth out and be packed, much like the beach. For now, one day of bouncing up, down and sideways is really enough for me.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long